They were imprisoned, but at least four consumed a lethal dose of fentanyl in prison, another committed suicide with a plastic bag over his head that remained, and another had been awaiting trial for over a year but took his own life when left unattended.
These are just some of the many inmate deaths in San Diego County jails for which a coalition filed a class-action lawsuit on Thursday.
So many prisoners have died in San Diego that the numbers exceed state and national rates. According to the most recent figures, 18 people died in county jails in the last year alone. Another 187 people lost their lives while in sheriff's custody between 2006 to 2020.
According to the lawsuit, there have been cases such as leaving a person who the guards knew was suicidal or leaving a person with a mental disorder wearing a mask resulting in death by suffocation.
All deaths mentioned so far in this briefing note were recorded in 2021 alone.
The federal class-action lawsuit was filed against San Diego County, the San Diego County Sheriff's Department, the San Diego County Probation Department, and San Diego County Jails' medical and mental health contractors.
They sued on behalf of six inmates, whose cases represent all of the current inmates in San Diego. The lawsuit was filed by two San Francisco Bay Area law firms, along with the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of San Diego.
It was filed for lack of adequate medical and mental health care and dire living conditions for people incarcerated in the county, as well as violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act and excessive disproportionate incarceration of people with disabilities and people of color.
Requires the county to implement measures to improve safety and protect the rights of people incarcerated in county jails. These measures include ensuring adequate physical, mental, and dental health care; accommodating incarcerated people with disabilities.